Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


IL-15 operates via a unique mechanism termed transpresentation. In this system, IL-15 produced by one cell type is bound to IL-15Rα expressed by the same cell and is presented to apposing cells expressing the IL-15Rβ/γC complex. We have shown that administering soluble IL-15Rα complexed with IL-15 can greatly enhance IL-15 activity. We now show that the naive CD8 T cell response to exogenous IL-15/IL-15Rα complex is MHC class I dependent. In the absence of β2 microglobulin, naive CD8 T cells scarcely proliferated in response to IL-15/IL-15Rα complex, whereas memory cells proliferated, although to a lesser extent, compared with levels in control mice. The loss of β2m or FcRn slightly reduced the extended half-life of IL-15/IL-15Rα complex, whereas FcRn deficiency only partially reduced the naive CD8 T cell proliferative response to IL-15/IL-15Rα complex. In addition, we demonstrated a link between TCR avidity and the ability of a T cell to respond to IL-15/IL-15Rα complex. Thus, T cells expressing low-avidity TCR responded poorly to IL-15/IL-15Rα complex, which correlated with a poor homeostatic proliferative response to lymphopenia. The inclusion of cognate peptide along with complex resulted in enhanced proliferation, even when TCR avidity was low. IL-15/IL-15Rα complex treatment, along with peptide immunization, also enhanced activation and the migratory ability of responding T cells. These data suggest that IL-15/IL-15Rα complex has selective effects on Ag-activated CD8 T cells. Our findings have important implications for directing IL-15/IL-15Rα complex-based therapy to specific Ag targets and illustrate the possible adjuvant uses of IL-15/IL-15Rα complex.


J Immunol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 August 4. Published in final edited form as: J Immunol. 2010 December 1; 185(11): 6857–6865. Published online 2010 November 1. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001601 PMCID: PMC3150213 NIHMSID: NIHMS312793